Martin Crieff didn’t want to climb the stairs to his ridiculous attic bedroom. He didn’t really want to do anything except lay down and die. After a 10 hour flight and a three hour round-trip to make a delivery in his van he was more than a little exhausted. He trudged through the kitchen, where the many students who inhabited the house were beginning to emerge for breakfast, and noted an envelope addressed to him on the counter.
Later, he thought. Sleep now.
He dragged himself up the stairs and collapsed onto his bed, falling asleep without even removing his shoes.
He was awakened several hours later by the noisy students doing their usual noisy things downstairs. He grimaced at the horrible taste in his mouth, and forced himself to get up to go downstairs and eat something before brushing his teeth and showering.
“Alright, Martin? Big night?” asked Mike, a first year student, as Martin trudged into the kitchen.
“You could say that,” Martin sighed in reply, searching the almost-empty cupboards for food. He settled on stale bread, and dropped two slices into the toaster.
“There’s a letter there for you,” Mike added.
Martin had almost forgotten. He frowned at the shiny, pale blue envelope. It had been a while since he’d gotten mail that wasn’t a bill. He slid his finger under the flap at the back and pulled out a card, elegantly decorated with hand-drawn flowers. His name had been written in by hand.
Dawn Tinsley and Tim Canterbury invite you to join them in the celebration of their marriage.
He stared at the invitation until the toaster popped and made him jump.
Well, then. This was unexpected.
Especially since the last time he’d seen Tim Canterbury, Martin was almost certain he’d had his hand down Tim’s trousers and not long after that he’d thrown up in a rubbish bin.
This wouldn’t be awkward at all.
Martin jerked awake as the phone rang in front of him. He hadn’t even realised he’d nodded off.
“Wernham Hogg,” he said, picking up the phone. “Yes... no, Mr Jones, your meeting’s still scheduled for two... Ok... sure, I’ll let him know... ok, bye.”
He hung up the phone and groaned.
“You need to sleep.”
He looked up at Tim, who had suddenly appeared in front of the reception desk.
“Sleep would be lovely, but I have to work night shifts this week.”
Tim leaned his folded arms on the higher level of the desk.
“Mate, you can’t keep doing this. You’ll burn yourself out.”
“It’s only for a few more weeks, then I can do my instrument rating.”
Tim smiled. “And get out of this place forever.”
Martin smiled back. “Hopefully...” Then he looked stricken. “Oh, God, no, Tim, I didn’t mean- I mean I’d miss you lot, obviously, it’s just- you know what I mean, I-”
Tim laughed. “Relax, Martin. No offense taken. I’d like to be out of here as much as you.”
Martin smiled politely as David bounded from his office to the reception desk.
“How’s everything going? You’re not distracting Mr Canterbury here from his work, are you, eh?”
“Good, good. Any phone calls for me?” David asked, with an awkwardly friendly punch to Martin’s arm.
“Ah, yes. One. Mr Jones called to check what time the meeting was and said he might be running late.”
“Silly old bugger. Doesn’t know what day it is half the time. Is that all?”
“Right. Well. Come on, Tim, back to work. Can’t stand there staring at Martin all day.”
“People might think you’re gay,” Gareth chimed in, helpfully, from his desk.
“Yes, thank you, Gareth,” David said. “No one thinks they’re gay. Although, obviously, if they were gay no one would have a problem with it, would we? But they’re not, so. Anyway. I’ll just...” David trailed off, smiled, and slipped back into his office.
Tim sighed. “Fascinating conversation, as ever. Anyway, we’ll go for a drink to celebrate when you pass your... thing. Instrument rating.”
“Yeah, that’d be nice, actually,” Martin replied, smiling his rather endearing lopsided smile. Then the smile faltered. “What if I fail?”
“Then we’ll drink more,” Tim smiled back. “And do it again when you pass.”